Can you explain the mathematics of planet Earth?

Share this page
Mathematics of Planet Earth

Our planet is shaped by the oceans, the dynamic geology and the changing climate. It teems with life and we, in particular, have a massive impact as we build homes, grow food, travel and feed our ever-hungry need for energy. Mathematics is vital in understanding all of these, which is why 2013 has been declared as the year for the Mathematics of Planet Earth.

As well as encouraging research into fundamental questions about the Earth and how to meet the challenges it faces, there will also be many opportunities during 2013 for everyone to get involved including public lectures and workshops, competitions and exhibitions. The first such competition is now underway: the MPE 2013 competition to design an exhibit about the mathematics of Planet Earth.

Everyone is invited to design an interactive or physical exhibit, images or videos that explain how mathematics helps to understand our world and solve its problems. MPE 2013 has come up with a list of possible topics to get you started and there are several examples of what an exhibit might look like, from fractal coasts to crystal flights and subway scheduling.

The competition is open for submissions until 20 December 2012. The winning entries, as well as winning cash prizes, will be exhibited in institutions around the world, including the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the inaugural exhibition in March 2013. All exhibitions will be open source and hosted by IMAGINARY, where anyone can download and reproduce the exhibits in their own museums or galleries.

Have you got an idea of how to explain the maths of planet Earth? Perhaps after reading about climate change and the Arctic or why we should all be nicer to one another? Then why not develop your ideas into an exhibit and share your mathematical ideas with all of us on planet Earth!

For more information visit the competition website or http://mpe2013.org/.

  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.

  • What do chocolate and mayonnaise have in common? It's maths! Find out how in this podcast featuring engineer Valerie Pinfield.

  • Is it possible to write unique music with the limited quantity of notes and chords available? We ask musician Oli Freke!

  • How can maths help to understand the Southern Ocean, a vital component of the Earth's climate system?

  • Was the mathematical modelling projecting the course of the pandemic too pessimistic, or were the projections justified? Matt Keeling tells our colleagues from SBIDER about the COVID models that fed into public policy.

  • PhD student Daniel Kreuter tells us about his work on the BloodCounts! project, which uses maths to make optimal use of the billions of blood tests performed every year around the globe.